The extinction of yard-sale signs

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

According to Cape Girardeau's new city ordinance, garage-sale signs are a thing of the past.

For some people, this has been a tragedy comparable to that of East Cape evolving into the so-called Tawdry Town.

But for the majority, this new ordinance will have as much of an impact on their lives as the extinction of the dodo bird. Sure, having such a rule may seem ridiculous and unfair, but are we really that upset?

Or do we just want fresh Speak Out material? The city I knew just 10 years ago has progressed tremendously, and downtown is in a slow-but-sure renovation process. Roads are being repaired, and new businesses are popping up everywhere I look. But they won't let us advertise our old junk with bright, unattractive, withering pieces of paper?

Oh.

My.

God.

Cape Girardeau has certainly hit an all-time low.

Shouldn't we be happy about this? No longer will you have to see tacky signs littering your streets and flimsy ads telling us how cheap a store's beer and cigarettes are.

It may be harmful to businesses, but is showing how affordable it is to get lung cancer or become an alcoholic a step in the right direction?

Preparing for garage sales isn't an enjoyable process anyway, so why even bother having them? When I was little, my family would spend hours digging through boxes of old knickknacks, sometimes telling the object's back story and reasons why we should or shouldn't get rid of it. Occasionally, someone would walk by the "sell" pile and see a pricelesss piece of sentimentality (like an old doll or unused toilet seat), and say "What is THIS doing here?" They would promptly take it and put it back where it belongs -- in the depths of our attic.

I don't have anything against the thrill-seeking bargain hunters out there, because I know I'll soon be searching the classifieds for that recliner or dining room table as well. It's just that there should be a little more order to this ritual instead of the chaos that ensues when a bright sheet of paper is seen hanging from a street sign.

Lately, my family has avoided the whole fiasco by just giving our stuff to the Salvation Army. We go in and come back out free of our useless excess, feeling as if we just returned an evil crystal ball back to the gypsy who sold it to us. We don't want anything for it -- just get it away from us!

We've still got the campaign signs around town, and I think the politicians should take advantage of this new ordinance. You might get more votes if, instead of putting a catchy slogan or even what you're running for, just put your name and a list of the upcoming month's garage sales.

Thrift shoppers who see that name on a ballot are going to think, "Hey! They helped me find my patio furniture!"

So to those complaining about the yard sale sign ordinance, just look at the historic river city you live in and the way commerce is flourishing.

Things could be worse, you know, but hey, it seems to me that things are just getting better.

Sam DeReign is a student at Southeast Missouri State University. Contact him at sdereign@semissourian.com.

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